Cast Glass and Fused Glass With a Native American Twist
My glass sculptures are especially important to me because of the spiritual and other-worldy effects I'm able to achieve using this medium.
Other people may see somthing different in my glass, but to me personally, my "cast" glass is about depth and richness of meaning, and my "fused" glass is about layers of existence... but they're similar in the sense that they're both about allowing people a way to literally see into the world of my ancestors.
And if people look long and hard enough, they may actually see an ancestor looking back at them!
Kiln Cast Glass
Click through the slide show to the right to see examples of Lillian's cast glass masks and sculptures.
Notice the extraordianary quality and rich color of the glass, and the hefty look of it. In part, that's because Lillian only uses New Zealand lead crystal when she creates these types of pieces.
It's the only glass I'll use because it lets me create the depth of feeling and the transparant qualities I'm looking for. I'm trying to infuse these pieces with a kind of spiritual quality, and I think that the New Zealand glass really helps make this happen.
Also notice the hand forged steel bases that each of the pieces in the "Shadow Spirits" series sits on. The bases are integral to the pieces themselves, serving not only to anchor them firmly so they won't fall over, but also to add to their overall esthetic appeal. Lillian adds:
The bases on the Shadow Spirits are all shaped in the form of grasses and leaves ... elements connected to nature. I think that the Spirits would feel comfortable being surrounded by these elements — so it's as if the Spirits are at one with nature.
Something else to take note of is the fact that the process for creating kiln cast glass is a process that few artists care to take on. It's a process that's very similar to the way a bronze sculpture is made, which is an enormously complex and time consuming process. Click to see the steps involved in bronze casting.
Fused & Slumped Glass Creations
Lillian also creates works of art using the "fused and slumped" method, which is a totally different method than the kiln cast process desribed above ... and with obviously different outcomes.
The fused and slumped method is similar, in a way, to how a print is made. It involves creating multiple layers of glass, each layer with its own design, and fusing all of the layers together.
Each layer is about 1/8 inch thick, and in the case of Lillian's works, a piece might consist of anywhere from three to six layers. Obviously, the more layers, the thicker the piece, and the more dramatic the result is going to be.
As with all of her other works, Lillian uses designs found in nature and the designs used by her ancestors when she creates these works of fine art.
Lillian continues to explore the medium of glass and its effects on the various other ancient "characters" she brings to life in her art.
Shown here is Ancient Coyote who is a central character in the many creation stories of the Columbia River people. He created many of the laws by which the people would live — sometimes by acting badly and therefore showing people what they should not do, and sometimes by behaving nicely, and showing people what they should do.
One important law he brought to the to the people was that the river should never be dammed and Salmon should always be free to travel up the Columbia River and its tributaries. He created the law when he broke up the fish dam of the Five Sisters known to the Native people as the Tah-tah Kleah Monsters.
Exposed Ribs & Belly Buttons
Exposed ribs and belly buttons, which appear frequently in Lillian's works, are unique to the traditional art forms of the Columbia River people. Lillian speculates as to why this may be so:
There's no way to know for sure, but I feel it might have something to do with the way people were buried. Actually, people weren't buried at all. When they died, they were placed on platforms in what were called "memaloose" islands, which at one time were all up and down the Columbia River.
Memaloose means "Walking Spirits Leaving." It was a term used for any island where the dead were placed. Now only one memaloose remains. The others were all buried when the water from the dams flooded the river.
Well, I think it's possible that the rock carvers who were carving their images on the cliffs high above these memaloose islands, may have simply been trying to depict the people on these islands, just like they tried to depict the many other things they were familiar with at the time ... things real or imagined, such as the the birds, the mountain goats, the seals, the "sea serpents" and so on.
The Unmanifested Series
The "Unmanifested Series," created using the kiln cast glass method, came to be as a result of Lillian's reflections on the attacks of 911.
I thought at the time, and still do, that these things were happening to us because we were not paying attention to nature.
We weren't taking care of the earth and the animals that were entrusted to us, and the attacks were just one way of bringing our attention to that fact. We human beings were, and still are, out of control ... and we're disturbing the balance of nature.
So the unmanifested series is about the struggle of what to do ... about us humans trying to figure it out, and about the animals, and all of nature, hoping that we get it right. It's about being in the process of becoming something else, but at the same time, not knowing what it is that we want to become.